Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Wild Turkey

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, a little history on one of our West Campus birds. The Wild Turkey was a very important food source to Native Americans, and was still abundant when the first settlers arrived in North America.

Wild Turkey females, Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, photo by J. de Leon
In Connecticut, it was eliminated from much of its range by the early 1800s, due in part to deforestation.
Re-introduction programs from the 1950s to early 1970s using captive-bred birds were unsuccessful, but when wild-caught turkeys were released, new breeding populations were quickly established. According to our State DEP, between 1975 and 1992, 356 wild turkeys were released at 18 sites throughout the state. The birds can now be found in all of Connecticut's 169 towns.
Displaying Wild Turkey. http://www.hiltonpond.org/images/TurkeyWildTom01.jpg

Here on the grounds of West Campus, we see turkeys just about everywhere - in the wooded areas of the Nature Preserve, in the landscaped areas around the buildings. Take a look at the plumage of this tom turkey, and next time you pick up a turkey feather, you might be able to figure out which part of the bird it came from.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, with or without the turkey.
No Wednesday birdwalk on November 25th.

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